Intestinal helminths continue to be a public health problem in Tororo District affecting many primary school pupils, irrespective of their age and sex. Much of the published information at the national and district levels had centered on prevalence without establishing the factors influencing such a situation. One way of obtaining useful epidemiological data and at a low cost was to carry out a study among pupils in primary schools to establish such factors as no such study had been carried out before.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
The study set out to assess factors influencing the prevalence of intestinal helminthes among pupils in primary schools. Specifically the study established the prevalence and the most common type of soil transmitted intestinal worms, the knowledge of pupils and their mothers / guardians about intestinal worms besides assessing environmental sanitation of the pupil’s homesteads.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
A Cross sectional study carried out between April and June 2000, involving 372 pupils who were randomly selected from 22 primary schools in Tororo District. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques were used. Questionnaires were administered and stool specimen examinations (based on the Kato-Katz technique) done to collect quantitative data. This was subsequently analyzed using computer software packages. FGDs were conducted to generate qualitative information which was manually transcribed and analyzed.
The general prevalence of intestinal helminths was 59.1% and girls (53.2%) were more affected than boys (46.8%). Hookworm infection was the major problem through of low intensity. Knowledge about intestinal helminths was generally low. Being a child of a peasant, inadequate health education, ingestion of contaminated food/water, the need to wash raw-uncooked foods and the need to wear shoes were significantly associated with the prevalence of intestinal helminthes.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
The general prevalence of intestinal helminthes among pupils in primary school was high. Hookworm infection was the most common and girls were more infected than boys. There was inadequate awareness about the mechanisms of transmission and preventive measures of intestinal helminths. Households had inadequate water supply, both in quantity and quality while human excreta were indiscriminately disposed of.
The Directorate of Health Services should institute a chemotherapy-based intestinal helminths program alongside a school health education campaign targeting all pupils in primary schools. Home and environment improvement campaigns should be organized. A supportive policy to promote the wearing of shoes by pupils in primary schools should be developed. Another operational study should be carried out in regard to traditional herbs / medicines that can treat intestinal helminths.